Remember when the Three Rs only stood for reading, writing, and arithmetic? Not any more. In our world of too much trash, the Three Rs now stand for Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle.
The trash and recyclables for most WestCoast magazine readers are picked up and processed by either Waste Management of the Inland Empire or Republic Services. Both companies use the three-bin system for separating yard waste, recyclables, and trash for the landfill.
Most of us try to correctly recycle, but if we toss a greasy pizza box in the recycle bin, do we dig it out? We should, because grease and tomato sauce will get on other recycles, contaminating the load, which will then be diverted to the landfill instead of headed for recycling.
How and what we recycled seemed less of a problem all those years we shipped our not-so-perfect recyclable bales to China. In 2018, China raised the National Sword Policy, cutting off illegal importation of contaminated bales. We continued selling to other Southeast Asian countries, as we had for decades, but they became more environmentally conscious, and now those bales are even being shipped back to their countries of origin.
Rather than shipping our cruddy rubbish to other countries, let’s get serious about the Three Rs.
Here’s how to start:
First, recycle correctly by only putting empty, clean, dry recyclables in the recycle bin – and don’t bag them or include plastic you can poke a finger through. Plastic bags get caught in machinery and can shut down the trash company’s entire system.
Instead, take plastic bags, dry cleaner bags, produce bags, newspaper sleeves, deflated packing pillows, and bubble wrap and dispose of them in market bag receptacles.
Do you use coffee K-pods? Switch to reusable pods. For drip coffeemakers, use a reusable filter instead of disposable paper ones. These are good ways for coffee drinkers to reduce and reuse.
Used paper napkins and plates end up in the landfill, but not cloth napkins and washable plates. Cloth napkins won’t impact a laundry load, and they stay out of the waste stream.
How about those electronics, including old computers, scanners, and printers? Check for electronic roundups put on by Scouts and other groups. Inkjet cartridges can be recycled at most office supply stores and are also collected by many schools.
CDs, DVDs and that pile of floppy disks can be recycled for free at Target and Best Buy. CD Recycling Center also takes disk cases, MP3 players, cell phones, small electronics, cables, extension cords, and Christmas lights. Go to www.CDrecycling.com for more information.
The Floppydisk Recycle Program also recycles floppies and sells them, too. Get started at www.floppydisk.com.
Small batteries don’t belong in our recycle or trash bins but can be taken to Staples, Target, and other retailers, plus some cities also collect them.
How many cosmetic bottles and tubes does your family use in a year? A lot, I bet, and most of them are not recyclable at the curb. Some cosmetic companies, including Lush and Mac, collect their own and reward you, and a few such as Origins take cosmetic empties from any brand.
Terracycle.com has several sources for recycling everything from toothpaste tubes, brushes, and floss containers to chip bags. They also offer fundraising incentives for schools and groups to collect and mail in their recyclables. It’s another way to teach your kids the Three Rs so they get in the habit of recycling instead of just tossing stuff in the trash bin. Let’s start today.
Terri Daxon is a writer/journalist for newspapers and other Southern California publications
Here are items accepted curbside by area trash haulers. Check their websites for more information: Wastemanagement.com and Republicservices.com.
For the Recycle Bin:
• No food or liquids!
• Plastic bottles and jugs – caps on
• Glass bottles and jars – caps off
• Newspapers, magazines, junk mail, printer paper
• Flattened cardboard
• Aluminum, metal cans, tins
• Nonmetallic wrapping paper, gift bags
• Plastic bags
• Bubble wrap
• Air packing pillows
• Styrofoam containers
• Clothes, shoes
• Garden hoses
• Toys, tools
• Soiled paper plates, cups, pizza boxes
• Yard clippings
• Clean or dirty diapers